After sustained pressure and a telling statement earlier in the day by US President Donald Trump that he expects “reasonably decent” news on the India-Pakistan conflict and “hopefully” it’s coming to an end, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has said in Parliament they will release IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman tomorrow as a gesture of peace.
Do not confuse our desire for de-escalation as weakness,” Khan said in a joint session of the Pak Parliament. He reiterated that Pakistan wants peace with India.
For India though it is great diplomatic victory after it had right along maintained that it expects Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be returned immediately and that there was no question of any deal. “If Pakistan thinks they have a card to negotiate with then they are mistaken. India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner.
“Pakistan is trying to create a Kandahar type pressure but India will not give in, there will be no deal or talks on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s release,” defence sourcs said.
The surprise announcement came barely an hour after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Prime Minister Khan is ready to talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions.
The announcement was greeted by thumping of desks by Pakistani members of parliament.
“In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer, in our custody,” Imran Khan said.
Wing Commander Abhinandan has been in Pakistan’s custody since yesterday when the MiG 21 he was flying was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistan Air Force planes.